Saturday, March 01, 2014

Taiwan Engineers Around Export Restrictions and Winds Up with a Better Satellite (IEEE Spectrum)

 (IEEE Spectrum)
By Yu-Tzu Chiu
28 Feb 2014 | 19:45 GMT
Since it launched its first satellite in 1999, Taiwan has been operating at a disadvantage. It’s had to maneuver through a thicket of export restrictions from European countries, such as France, Germany, and the United States to acquire a key component, without which its satellites would be lost. That component, a space-based GPS receiver helps fix the flying direction for a satellite and accurately calculate which way a spacecraft’s antenna should point. 
According to Chen-Tsung Lin, director of Flight Control Division of theNational Space Organization (NSPO), dealing with those country’s export restrictions regarding space systems could take up to six months, and the lengthy process has seriously hampered Taiwan’s satellite projects.
Three years of hard work by Lin’s team resulted in the creation of Taiwan’s first home grown space-based GPS receiver. What’s more, the receiver is actually better than what Taiwan had been able to import in several ways.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines faces long road to recovery

The Lancet, Volume 382, Issue 9906, Pages 1691 - 1692, 23 November 2013
Yu-Tzu Chiu

Homes, health infrastructure, and other essential services have been decimated in areas hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan, leaving millions of survivors vulnerable to illness. Yu-Tzu Chiu reports.

The death of 3-day-old infant Althea Mustacia on Nov 16 might have been avoided had ventilators been working at a public medical centre in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines's Leyte province. 

Establishing sustained respiration for the infant who had asphyxia after birth was tragically hampered, however, after power lines went down across the entire region in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which hit central Philippines on Nov 8.

Filipino health officials say that most hospitals and health facilities in the typhoon-hit areas are seriously damaged. In Tacloban (figure), in the worst-hit province of Leyte, only one public hospital remains functional following Haiyan (one of the strongest storms ever recorded), according to Gloria Balboa, a regional director at the Philippines Department of Health (DOH). “Now we have to rely on private facilities and some additional hospitals set up by international groups”, she tells The Lancet.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In-Air Signature Gives Mobile Security to the Password-Challenged

By Yu-Tzu Chiu

Nobody likes passwords. If you use the same one everywhere, a single slipup can give a thief access to all your information. If you make your passwords unique, you’ll have so many you’ll have to rely on your Web browser to remember them.

Pokai Chen and Meng-syun Tsai, computer scientists at National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), based in Hsinchu, Taiwan, think thesolution is to revert to the days when the only ID you ever needed was your signature. They’ve come up with an app that lets you log in by drawing your signature—or anything else, really—in the air with your smartphone.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mehr Angst als Vaterlandsliebe

Militär: Taiwan verliert Kampf ums Berufsheer

Taiwan lebt in Sorge vor einem chinesischen Militärschlag, obwohl sich die Beziehungen zum Nachbarn in den vergangenen Jahren verbessert haben.
Taiwan lebt in Sorge vor einem chinesischen Militärschlag, obwohl sich die Beziehungen zum Nachbarn in den vergangenen Jahren verbessert haben.

Von Yu-Tzu Chiu, dpa

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Reproductive health on hold in the Philippines

The Lancet, Volume 381, Issue 9879, Page 1707, 18 May 2013
By Yu-Tzu Chiu

Health workers are awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing, which will decide if the Philippines can finally implement comprehensive reproductive health services. Yu-Tzu Chiu reports.

Filipinos took the polls this week to elect senators to make up the 16th Congress of the Philippines. The protection of women's sexual and reproductive rights was a divisive issue in the run-up to the elections. Ahead of polling day, different groups publicly endorsed candidates who voted for or against the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RHA), signed by President Bebigno S Aquino last December.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Encryption Chip Fights Off Sneak Attacks

Processor obscures characteristics that enable side-channel attacks in cloud computing

【IEEE Spectrum】

By YU-TZU CHIU  /  MON, MARCH 18, 2013

Image: Danil Melekhin/iStockphoto

Businesses offering cloud-based services face a growing data leakage threat, say Taiwanese hardware designers. They claim to have devised a tactic to fight back: a chip with circuitry to frustrate what are known as side-channel attacks. 
Side-channel attacks scrutinize things like computation time, power consumption, and electromagnetic emissions to glean something about the operations of cloud servers or to steal the cryptographic keys they use. Johns Hopkins University cryptography researcher Matthew D. Green writes in the January/February issue of IEEE Security & Privacy magazine that the cloud offers “a bonanza of potential side channels, because different virtual machines share physical resources, such as processor, instruction cache, or disk, on a single computer.” If malware in one virtual machine monitors the behavior of those resources, it could, in theory, figure out the set of cryptographic keys being used by a separate virtual machine, so long as both virtual machines reside on the same physical server. In fact, researchers at RSA Laboratories, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Wisconsin created such an attack [PDF], although it was difficult to execute.
A research team from the National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) in Hsinchu, Taiwan, decided to focus its defenses on cryptography chips that perform elliptic-curve cryptography (ECC). ECC has gained popularity in recent years, especially for mobile devices, because it uses much shorter cryptographic keys than other mainstream public-key cryptography methods do.
Last month, at the 2013 IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), in San Francisco, the NCTU team reported that their new chip is resistant to side-channel attacks. Essentially, it makes side-channel attacks take so long that they become impractical.
“In the chip, we introduced not only a simplified way to do the encryption/decryption but also a sort of random-number generator to prevent side-channel attacks,” saysChen-Yi Lee, professor of electrical and electronics engineering at NCTU. “Hackers would have to spend five or six years to gain the details that they currently can get within a day” using side-channel attacks. (The RSA Laboratories experiment required about 6 hours.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Japan Looks to Taiwan to Disaster-Proof Telecom

Photo: Francois Lochon/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
LINES DOWN: A mobile phone left in the rubble in Yamada, Japan after the 11 March 2011 earthquake was just one sign of how hard the country's telecommunications systems were hit.

In the shadow of the catastrophic Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, Japanese information and communication technologies experts have been working on developing technology that might lead to communications systems that are, in their words, “robust, resilient, and dependable” in disasters and emergencies.
According to Japanese researchers, vulnerable communication networks in Japan left many victims and emergency responders in digital isolation for several days following the earthquake. Mobile-call volume was 50 to 60 times as high as usual, forcing operators to restrict traffic by 70 to 95 percent. In addition, base stations were damaged and backhaul cables were cut. Even if those assets had remained intact, they couldn’t function normally for long because blackouts and road damage made it impossible to recharge batteries or refuel of emergency power generators.
There has been some progress on that last front, points out Fumiyuki Adachi, professor of electrical and communication engineering at Tohoku University. His mobile-phone signals were gone just 2 hours after the earthquake, he says, even though the nearby base station just outside the Tohoku University campus appeared intact. “In the past, the batteries used as backup power supplies can only last 2 hours. Now they’ve been replaced by more powerful ones, which can sustain a base station for 24 hours,” Adachi says.
Adachi is part of a project in Japan called the multilayered communications network. [PDF] Tohoku University, KDDI R&D Laboratories, KDDI Corporation, OKI Electric Industry, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, and Yokosuka Research Park are all involved in this government-funded project, which seeks to build a communications infrastructure that works well during disasters. Their idea of a reliable disaster-resilient multilayered communication network would consist of a combination of cellular and regional networks such as WiMax, Wi-Fi, and satellite networks.